Once again a message came to me from the Lord: “Son of man, give your people this message: ‘When I bring an army against a country, the people of that land choose one of their own to be a watchman. When the watchman sees the enemy coming, he sounds the alarm to warn the people. Then if those who hear the alarm refuse to take action, it is their own fault if they die. They heard the alarm but ignored it, so the responsibility is theirs. If they had listened to the warning, they could have saved their lives. But if the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, he is responsible for their captivity. They will die in their sins, but I will hold the watchman responsible for their deaths.’ – Ezekiel 33:1-6
Wow. As I have been walking through the Old Testament and dwelling in the longer prophet books, I have been amazed and sometimes disturbed at the responsibility and actions God requires of His spokesmen. The command given here in Ezekiel 33 resonated and convicted me this morning.
As a follower of Christ, God has chosen each of us to be watchmen on the wall for people He has given us. For Ezekiel, God gave him the people of Israel. God has also given you and me people to whom we are to give God’s messages. We are to be standing on the wall, interceding for and seeking to protect them. We are to watch and warn. I think this is often misinterpreted to be this impersonal shouting of messages out to the world, rather than face-to-face conversations where there is a personal stake and ongoing relationship with a person. I think this perception is opposite of God’s intentions.
Perhaps it is more like the shepherds’ approach when Heaven’s armies gloriously appeared in the night sky proclaiming God’s entrance into humanity and the peace He would achieve. They were God’s watchmen that night, even though they thought they were just watching over the sheep. Instead, God gave them the greatest message ever and expected them to share it. Immediately, they ran from the scene to see the fullness of God in a precious newborn to worship Him. Then, they did not just keep this message to themselves, they told everyone they could find about it. Luke says that those they told were “astonished” by the shepherd’s news. See Luke 2:8-20.
We are not only to proclaim the message, we are to participate in it. We are to live it out. The prophets did. They performed vivid and sometimes painful word pictures of what God wanted to communicate to the people. They went into captivity and experienced some of the same punishments those who did not believe had to suffer. Watchmen don’t always escape. But, they are preserved and rewarded by God for their obedience and faithfulness to their calling with God’s sweet presence and eternity with Him.
For God’s Watchmen, consider these challenges with me as you are on the wall this week:
- God’s Watchmen watch and listen for God to speak. We’ve got to be in sync with our Savior! That means we must be diving into His Word everyday with hearts open to hear from Him. We must be talking with and listening to God in prayer, expecting Him to meet with us. Are you in the Word? Going through the motions? Evaluate your daily walk with Christ, and let God show you how He would like to deepen your relationship.
- God’s Watchmen act. They obey God wholeheartedly. As they are meeting with God and He imparts a truth to be acted upon, they do not delay. Are there opportunities and commands we are sitting on right now? Has God asked you to do something, and you are “praying about it” right now? Be honest, and stop delaying your obedience.
- God’s Watchmen understand the responsibility they have for the people God has given them. This has given me pause today as I consider, who has God given me to stand on the wall for? The responsibility I have for them is great and not to be taken lightly. I will need God’s strength, direction and love in order to fulfill such a task. Who has God given you?
These challenges seem so straightforward and simple, but when you are up on the wall as the enemy approaches, you will quickly realize that only through Christ can we sound the alarm and stand our ground. Only because of His great love can we show such love to those God has given to us to proclaim His messages.